Although the LTTE no longer poses a conventional military threat, the government will retain the state of emergency to facilitate ongoing operations undertaken by intelligence services, both here and abroad, targeting LTTE operatives. In keeping with a Defence Ministry directive, recruitment to the armed forces and police, too, will continue for the time being.
A senior Defence Ministry official told The Island that the police, Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and the Naval intelligence had been engaged in operations to track down LTTE cadres taking refuge among civilians both at IDP facilities and outside. According to him, some top LTTE operatives and their agents, including Superintendent of Police Lakshman Cooray had been apprehended since the final battle on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on May 18.
A senior police official told The Island that Cooray had made more than one bid to facilitate an LTTE suicide attack on the President even after the Tigers were defeated last May. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said that timely arrest of a top LTTE intelligence operative in Colombo had led investigators to Cooray, who initially denied any involvement with the Tigers.
Addressing a recent press briefing at the Government Information Department, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena referred to Cooray s involvement with the LTTE. He said that the police officer had been involved in attempts to target the President at Badulla and Matara. He emphasised that both attempts had been made after the defeat of the LTTE.
Well informed sources said that an alleged dispute between Cooray and a senior security official, in charge of the President s security may have prevented the LTTE agent from infiltrating the Presidential Security Division.
Sources said that after serving in Jaffna during the Norwegian-arranged ceasefire, Cooray had secured a posting in Gampaha with the help of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. Sources said that an investigation ordered following Fernandopulle s assassination over a year ago had revealed negligence on the part of Cooray but the Police at that time never suspected his involvement with the LTTE. Sources added that the slain Minister s wife Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle had even intervened on behalf of Cooray when he faced a disciplinary inquiry following the assassination.
Cooray is believed to have been directly involved in Fernandopulle s assassination.
Responding to a recent French demand to end the State of Emergency in Sri Lanka, government sources said that a section of the international community, particularly EU member States had turned a blind eye to Sri Lanka s security needs. They seemed unaware of the difficulty in fighting terrorism, sources said. `Had the government repealed all anti-terrorism laws at the end of war, we would not have an opportunity to arrest Kumaran Padmanathan aka KP` or Cooray or his handler,` sources said.
Ambassador for Human Rights, Francois Zimeray last weekend asked Sri Lanka to end its state of Emergency and probe war crimes ahead of a key European Union ruling on trade concessions to Sri Lanka.
Zimeray said he hoped Sri Lanka would signal the ending of its war with the LTTE by withdrawing emergency laws which allowed the detention of suspects for long periods without trial.
`Ending of the emergency (in force since 1983) should have been the first consequence of ending the war (in May),` he was quoted by agencies as saying.
Police investigating Cooray are trying to establish possible links between Cooray and politicians. Another top LTTE operative in government custody is Colonel Ranjith Silva, also involved in an alleged attempt to assassinate the President. The police said Silva had allegedly brought a suicide cadre to the BMICH to last year s Deyata Kirula exhibition to assassinate the President. A senior police official, who had been in charge of security at the BMICH at that time, told The Island that Silva, had an exchange of words with a police officer after he and his accomplice were denied entry.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told The Island that investigations would continue until Sri Lanka achieved its targets both here and overseas.